Over 170 countries are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) this week to improve breastfeeding rates globally by raising awareness. Partners of the week in the 170 countries, including UNICEF, hope to broadcast the benefits of breastfeeding in order to educate the public.
UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake said he hopes the week will send the message that “Breastfeeding can save your baby’s life. No other preventive intervention is more cost effective in reducing the number of children who die before reaching their fifth birthdays.” Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of health, also advised mothers “to put their babies to breast within half an hour of delivery, avoid giving water, and continue to breastfeed exclusively for six months, while continuing breastfeeding for two years on demand.”
WBW promotes exclusively breastfeeding newborn babies and infants. In addition to nourishing infants and newborns, breast milk also protects them from neonatal disease and stunted growth. Evidence has shown that if infants were exclusively breastfed for 6 months up until one year, that there could be a 13 percent decrease in deaths of children under five.